Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Philosophy


Type Open Level 3 Credits 40 Availability Available in 2008/09 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Degree course in SH Philosophy, JH Classical Studies/Philosophy (with the approval of the Board of Studies), JH Philosophy/Politics, JH Philosophy/Theology, or Natural Science.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Any other dissertation module.


  • To get students wrestling with a philosophical problem or a philosophical author on their own, with the guidance of a supervisor, and writing up their work in a formal academic way.


  • The topic of the dissertation is chosen by the student in consultation with the supervisor.
  • Tutorials are held to discuss work in progress, and cover planning and structure of the dissertation, research methods (eg.
  • bibliographical searching and reference) and final presentation.
  • Students are expected to submit preparatory plans and drafts for discussion to an agreed schedule.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module students will have detailed knowledge of a topic their choice, agreed with their supervisor, in philosophy or history and philosophy of science and medicine
Subject-specific Skills:
  • locate, understand, assess and utilise pertinent philosophical (and, where appropriate, historical) sources
  • interpret and criticise relevant texts.
Key Skills:
  • express themselves clearly and succinctly in writing and discussion
  • comprehend complex ideas, propositions and theories
  • defend their opinions by reasoned argument
  • seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information
  • tackle problems in a clear-sighted and logical fashion

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Individual supervision sessions provide students with guidance for reading to discuss the progress of their research, and to assess their understanding of the topics and arguments covered in their dissertation.
  • The advice session for students writing dissertations gives general advice on research resources, layout and presentation.
  • The dissertation tests knowledge and understanding of the topics covered in the dissertation, the ability to identify and explain philosophical and/or historical issues, and, using relevant research material to present relevant theories and arguments and to make reasoned judgements on their merits and demerits.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Individual Supervision 5 1 5
Preparation and Reading 395
Total 400

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
dissertation must not exceed 12000 words and must be submitted by the first Friday of the Easter Term of the Final Year 100%

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University